Trees will add final touch to £9m redevelopment of historic Great Yarmouth corridor

PUBLISHED: 13:12 07 December 2012

Fisherman's Hospital, Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Lifeboat Station, St Georges Chapel, Gorleston Pavilion Theatre

Fisherman's Hospital, Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Lifeboat Station, St Georges Chapel, Gorleston Pavilion Theatre


NORFOLK’S newest theatre will be ringed by trees in a final flourish that will seal its place at the heart of a green corridor linking river and sea in Great Yarmouth.

Planting on the north side of St George’s Theatre is due to take place in the next few weeks with a variety of birch deemed to have the right-sized canopy - not too “heavy” but with enough foliage to enhance the scene.

Borough conservation officer Darren Barker said there were also plans to acknowledge those who had contributed to a memorial garden, swept away under the £9m makeover.

A single plaque will commemorate the various trees and plaques put there in the early 1980s, remembering among others Valerie Howkins’ son David who died aged 15, 33 years ago, and her parents.

The retired jeweller is now curator of the David Howkins’ Museum of Memories which weaves together family, local and royal history, and is a stone’s throw from the theatre in King Street.

Mr Barker said reinstating the names, albeit in a single plaque, was the “right thing to do” and would chime with continuity, although no more new names would be added.

The architect-designed plaque will be on the southern side. Overall there will be more trees than those that were felled to make way for the redesign.

Mrs Howkins who was a leading light in the battle to save the Grade I-listed chapel the first time round, sits on the St George’s Community Working Group.

She is keen to hear from anyone who donated to the cost of the original trees in 1981 which formed part of a memorial garden with shrubs and plaques.

She said: “They just cleared the site before anyone knew and there was a great deal of upset because people had paid for trees to be planted. There is now going to be a whole list of people who donated trees and I just want to make sure I haven’t missed anyone.”

For Malcolm Scott, former Belton parish council chairman, putting back the Hiroshima tree will be a significant step - the single tree representing all that stood amid the devastation. “It is wonderful news if they are going to set it back. It was a tragedy that it went in the first place,” he said.

Meanwhile although the theatre is operational the scheme is being held up by a problem pavilion. Builders are getting to grips with a “diaphragm” roof which has “not behaved as expected”.

A ceremony to mark the tree planting and plaque will take place probably in early summer, but not until noisy builders are off site, in a mark of respect.

The David Howkins’ Museum of Memories is shut for the winter, and opens again at Easter. For a private viewing or to contact Mrs Howkins about the plaques call her on 01493 659382.

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